Ukraine is the country worst affected by HIV/AIDS in Europe.  440,000 people aged 15-49 are estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS.  Three regions - Kyiv, Odessa and Donetsk - have recently crossed the threshold of 1% HIV infection among pregnant women, indicating the increasing generalisation of the epidemic.

The importance of these statics is brought home when I have a meeting at the embassy with Russell Brown MP and representatives of UNICEF from London and Kyiv.  They are here to examine the specific question of how children and young people are affected by HIV and what can be done about it.  This includes the analysis of data for "most at risk adolescents" (MARA) aged 10-19 and how to help this target group access services to reduce the risk of transmission and harm.  Here are some links to a website about the work of UNICEF's work in this area, and to some moving and hard-hitting one-minute films produced by children and young people who who have a family member who is HIV positive or who are HIV positive themselves.

I would urge anyone reading this blog, but particularly young people, to have a look at the websites and films.  It's vital to know how to protect yourself, eg through safe sex and avoiding sharing needles.  Preventative behaviour can help save the lives of many people including young people and children.  The other point which the films make clear eloquently is that we should all protect the rights and dignity of people who are living with, or at risk of exposure to, HIV.  This isn't something which happens to other people.  It's something which affects all of us, and to which all of us need to respond.

Leigh Turner
British Ambassador to Ukraine

NOTE:  You can read all of Ambassador Turner's blogs by visiting: 

Ukrayinska Dumka


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